I saw a bunch of movies in 2017. Most of them were pretty darn good, as it was an excellent year for movies. However, there were some clunkers, some films that just did not succeed.
Here are my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2017:
10 THE DARK TOWER
This fantasy thriller based on the epic eight novel series by Stephen King is anything but epic. First of all, it’s a prequel. We meet a boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who’s haunted by recurring bad dreams in which he sees a Gunslinger (Idris Elba) battling a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) over the fate of the world. Jake eventually enters their world and joins the fight against the Man in Black.
For a movie based on an eight book series by Stephen King, the story it tells is about as skeletal as you can get. The film skimps on details and characterizations, and as a result it’s not very satisfying. It’s also not visually impressive. Both Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are fine in their roles, but they’re not enough to save this movie, which is not awful. It’s just so sparse it’s inconsequential.
9 AMERICAN ASSASSIN
AMERICAN ASSASSIN is one of those movies that could have been so much better had it only been believable. For starters, I simply did not buy Dylan O’Brien as Mitch Rapp. O’Brien was chosen for the role specifically because he’s young, as there are plans to turn this movie into a film series, but he’s way too young here. Michael Keaton fares better in a supporting role as CIA tough guy Stan Hurley. Its tale of a young man seeking revenge against the terrorists who murdered his girlfriend, who’s then recruited by the CIA, never rings true.
I see lots of action movies. The really good ones make you forget they’re telling an impossible story. They’re convincing in their execution. The lesser ones simply go through the motions. AMERICAN ASSASSIN clearly falls into the latter category. It expends little or no effort in convincing its audience that any of it could be true.
8 BEATRIZ AT DINNER
BEATRIZ AT DINNER is a morality tale for the Trump era, the story of a woman named Beatriz (Salma Hayek) who views the world in terms of healing. Her core beliefs are challenged when she crosses paths with a Trump-like character named Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) at a dinner party one evening. I loved the plot but not the execution.
The dinner is sufficiently awkward and painful, but the payoff isn’t up to snuff. There are certainly sinister implications as to where this story might go. Beatriz reaches certain realizations and conclusions, and then she must act on them. What she ultimately decides is a major letdown. It’s not exactly the most inspiring conclusion. On the contrary, it’s quite the head-scratcher. The film seems to be satisfied with its dinner party sequence, and like any get-together over a meal, it has its moments, but if you’re looking for big answers to some of today’s big questions, you won’t find them on the menu.
KIDNAP is pretty much a nonstop chase as a mother Karla (Halle Berry) pursues the people who kidnapped her young son in broad daylight over roads, highways, and wherever they lead her. Sounds like an intense thrill ride, but it’s not, because the filmmakers forgot one very important ingredient: they forgot to make it believable.
Karla in her pursuit of the kidnappers causes more accidents and collateral damage than James Bond and Jason Bourne combined, yet the police aren’t anywhere to be found, except for one officer who is killed, which should have generated a massive police response. Nor are the kidnappers deterred. Karla creates an uproar within seconds of the kidnapping, so much so you’d think the kidnappers, regardless of how much money they might be paid for stealing children, would not want this kind of exposure and would dump the child and take off. But no, they hang on, as if this particular child was the next Lindbergh baby. The screenplay by Knate Lee wastes a scary premise as the story becomes contrived within moments of Karla’s jumping into her car to chase after her son’s kidnappers.
Halle Berry is a very good actress. She deserves to be in better movies than KIDNAP.
6 47 METERS DOWN
In general, I like movies about sharks, even though most of them have been pretty bad. 47 METERS DOWN joins the list of lousy shark movies. Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico, enjoying the beaches and basically getting away from it all. They meet a couple of fun-loving young men who convince them to take the shark cage tour under water. Lisa and Kate go underwater together in the shark cage, which I thought strange since they’re on a date and it would have made more sense for each of them to go underwater with their respective dates. Anyway, the line holding the cage breaks and they fall to the ocean floor, which is 47 meters down and infested with hungry sharks.
Sounds like an exciting movie, but strangely it is not. The whole thing is all rather flat, thanks to some uninspiring direction by Johannes Roberts. The CGI created sharks don’t help. They don’t look real. I also never felt the fear that these women should have felt. They might have been stuck in an elevator for all I knew, rather than in a shark cage. Their emotions were never that intense.
Considering its plot, this one is surprisingly dull throughout.
5 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
While I still enjoy the Captain Jack Sparrow character played by Johnny Depp, the PIRATES films themselves have become shallow and redundant, with no sense of storytelling whatsoever. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (2017) is really the tale of two new characters: Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), the dashing blacksmith who teamed up with Jack Sparrow in the first three PIRATES movies, and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is still around, but he’s not really the main focus here.
The screenplay by Jeff Nathanson is pretty much geared for six year-olds. The humor doesn’t work either. The jokes are watered down and not edgy enough to earn many laughs. The film plays like a TRANSFORMERS movie under water. Special effects galore, but no story to be found, which is a shame, because it wastes a character I like a lot, Captain Jack Sparrow. This fifth PIRATES film is flat-out awful. Better to walk the plank than to sit through two plus hours of this sea tale.
4 GHOST IN THE SHELL
Awful science fiction flick starring Scarlett Johansson, based on a comic and classic anime movie from 1995, which in spite of the extravagant special effects and eye-popping visuals, is about as imaginative as yolk in the shell.
Johansson plays the Major, a cyborg with a human brain. She’s surprisingly dull in the role. The screenplay by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger, based on the comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by Masamune Shirow, is anemic and flat. The dialogue is uninspiring, and the story dull and mindless. Director Rupert Sanders does a nice job with the visuals and adds some nifty cinematic touches, although the dazzling futuristic cityscape is not entirely original, as it is clearly reminiscent of the look of Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER (1982).
A major disappointment, GHOST IN THE SHELL is about as thought-provoking and compelling as those awful RESIDENT EVIL and UNDERWORLD movies. Without a doubt, it’s my least favorite Scarlett Johansson movie.
RINGS was so incredibly dull and boring that it was really difficult to sit through this one. The biggest offender? The storytelling. The screenplay by three writers, David Loucka, Jacob Estes, and Akiva Goldsman really struggles to tell a story. The movie gets off to such a disjointed start it’s laughable.
Director F. Javier Gutierrez goes through the motions. No memorable images or scares to be found. Don’t bother with this one. It’s a complete waste of time.
2 THE MUMMY
A disaster from start to finish, I can only hope this becomes a lost film. With THE MUMMY, Universal launched their “Dark Universe” series, an attempt to reimagine their monster movies of yesteryear as a sort of Marvel superhero spinoff. This is a huge mistake. Someone needs to shut this concept down yesterday. The idea of re-booting these classic Universal monster movies as superhero action flicks is an insult to the original films. If you are going to remake them, they need to be remade as horror movies, plain and simple.
The story is a complete mess and features Egyptian artifacts stolen by crusader knights, a secret spy organization run by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), a dashing treasure hunter named Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and oh yes, there is a mummy, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). This movie is so bad that not even the prospect of a female mummy can save it.
Things get so bad Tom Cruise’s character is actually refered to as a “young man.” Cruise’s presence here doesn’t do the movie any favors. Not that it would have saved this movie, but a younger more dynamic actor would have made things a bit better. And poor Russell Crowe is forced to utter the worst lines in the movie as Dr. Jekyll. His voice-over narration at the end of the film is so bad it sounds like an off-the-cuff ad lib about good vs. evil. He gets to say such nonsense as “which side will win— we just don’t know. He might be a hero. He might be evil.” This might be a real script. And as the Mummy, Ahmanet, Sofia Boutella just isn’t given enough to do to have any relevant impact.
Here’s hoping THE MUMMY is lights out for the Dark Universe.
1 THE BYE BYE MAN
While 2017 was a great year for horror movies, it didn’t start out that way. Back in January we had to endure THE BYE BYE MAN. It’s hard to believe that any movie in 2017 could be worse than THE MUMMY, but unbelievably, there was one: THE BYE BYE MAN.
First of all, what an awful title! Sounds like a children’s book. THE BYE BYE MAN has all the things that make a dreadful horror movie: bad acting, uninspired direction, and a weak script. There are some awkward shots by director Stacy Title, almost amateurish, during some scenes of dialogue, where the camera jumps from one character’s face to the other and often lingers there. During key moments of the movie, the audience was laughing. Not a good sign. The script by Jonathen Penner was dull and redundant. The characters were also weak, and I wasn’t interested in any of them.
THE BYE BYE MAN is a forgettable horror movie, and it’s my pick for the worst movie of the year.
And that wraps things up here for today.
Thanks for reading!
Books by Michael Arruda:
TIME FRAME, science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.
FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.